Las Vegas natives Kurt and Kyle Busch are unquestionably the fan favorites this weekend. For the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle, it’s about adding to his winnings. He’s already won a Cup Series race, two in the Xfinity Series and a pair of Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series races at the track.
Unfortunately for Kyle Busch, 34, he’s winless in 29 starts this season though. He couldn’t be more motivated to get back on track at his hometown track, where in 2009 he won from the pole position to become its youngest Cup Series winner (23 years, nine months, 27 days). He remains the only driver to win from pole position at Vegas.
He’s finished seventh or better in four of the last seven Cup races at Las Vegas, including third-place in the 2019 spring race. Twice he’s finished runner-up (in 2005 and 2018). His seven top-five finishes are tied for tops among those on the grid this week.
“Vegas always means a little bit more pressure – more pressure on myself – just because it’s the hometown and you want to win there,’’ Busch conceded. “Thankfully, I have won there, and I’ve knocked that one off the list, but certainly you want to win there every year.
“I love Vegas, the atmosphere and everything going on around that place.’’
For older brother Kurt, 41, the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion, it’s about finally finding a way to Las Vegas Motor Speedway Victory Lane. He has won a pair of pole positions (2010, 2016), but his best finish in 21 starts is third-place in 2005. Busch scored his only other top-five in the spring race last year, finishing fifth and leading 23 laps in his Vegas debut for Chip Ganassi Racing.
The problem is, they have five combined playoff points and need solid finishes Sunday to not going into the two wildcard races of this round in a hole.
Kyle has finished 15th or worse in three of his last six Vegas starts too including two straight. Kurt has five finishes of 21st or worst, three of which 30th or worse, in his last six tries.
With Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL looming, Vegas could be a happy homecoming but a somber ending on Sunday.